Thursday, January 23, 2014

Purpose in Your Practice

"Most people who think they are working hard are merely developing the skill of being in the gym, not the skill of making baskets."
Wow. That hit me. I found the article this quote came from after seeing Donald Whitney's tweet earlier today:

You can read the article HERE, but the basic premise is that those, like Mozart, Kobe, etc. who where/are the best in their field put in the time to practice. But that's not all. It's not just practice. it's practice with a purpose.

So, it's not enough to just "go to the gym for an hour" every day, there must be purpose in your practice. Waking up everyday and going to the gym at 6:00am and half-heartedly doing your leg workout while taking frequent breaks to check Facebook isn't really going to produce the desired results.Now, the analogy between practice and pursuing holiness is far from perfect but it is close enough to draw some application for us.

There is a category of "christian" in the South that means nothing more than attending church (sometimes), trying not to do anything "real bad," and being a good American citizen. This post isn't an address to that category because that category isn't really Christian at all. If you're in that category you need to repent and believe the gospel.

Here's who I'd like to address. Those who acknowledge their only hope of salvation is receiving the righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith which He secured for them by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. You truly desire to grow in godliness but your bible intake, prayer life, evangelism, participation at church, etc. has felt stale.

You feel like your working hard, but not seeing "results".

Have you trained yourself to just go to the gym or how to make baskets? What is the purpose of your practice? Why are you reading the bible? Why are you praying? Why are you involved in a local body of believes? Why are you telling others about Jesus?

Seriously, answer that. Why? Is it because "that's what Christians are supposed to do"? Is it because "I feel guilty if I don't"? If those are your motivations, or something similar, you are training yourself in the skill of going to the gym. There is no sustaining purpose there and while there will be growth if you truly are a Christian through the means of these and others spiritual disciplines, you will never find satisfaction in your walk with Jesus by just trying to keep a checklist.

1 Timothy 4:7 says "Train yourself for godliness."

Paul understood that we have the World, the Flesh, and the Devil pulling at us as we continue to walk with Jesus by faith. While we don't diminish the work of the Holy Spirit in our Sanctification, the reality of the New Testament is that we must train. And actually, it's when we really come face to face with grace as Christians, and understand that we don't have to earn God's favor or do things to make Him love us (and realize that we can't do things to make Him love or hate us) that we will be motivated to train ourselves for godliness. We've tasted and seen that the Lord is good and we want more. We realize that God has saved us for a purpose - to fellowship with Him forever in holiness. To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever or as John Piper has put it "To glorify God by enjoying Him forever." While we will never realize anything close to perfection in this life, our desire now is to pursue holiness because we want to be glad in God.

And that's the kicker to training for the skill of making baskets, not just going to the gym. What must ground our bible intake, prayer time, discipleship meetings, church gatherings, etc. is the goal of godliness. We do not do these things to check off a list or to make God happy or to keep Him from zapping us. We do these things because we desire holiness.

So when the alarm goes off at 5:00am, and you're groggy, and feel like you're just going through the motions, keep this in the forefront of your mind: godliness. I want to know Christ in a more intimate way. I want to be like Christ. I want to do His blessed will in every area of my life. I want to love others and take the gospel to the nations. I want to be glad in God. I want godliness.

And that's purpose in your practice. You're not waking up early to train yourself to go to the gym. You're waking up early to learn how to make baskets.

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